Image of wheelchair user on one side of a ravine alone and able-bodied people on the other

Each day LinkedIn consistently sends me job alerts on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).  I haven’t taken the time to turn off these little notifications as my plate is beautifully full in life at the moment.  I do, however, find myself clicking on these jobs from time to time to read what they’re all about, requirements, qualifications, etc.

I’m also amazed when a job posting goes up that there are usually over 100 applicants within just a few hours.  I suppose I’m keeping my pulse on the DEI landscape in general as this is such a hot field now (rightly so), which I do hope remains consistent in the decades to come. The other day a very well-known medical company posted a job for a DEI Consultant position that was advertised as remote.  I was reading the job description and it seemed pretty boilerplate for so many I see regularly at first glance that is.  What I discovered upon reading further raised an incredibly bright red flag for me.

Job Posting Title Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Consultant- ( Remote) Job Description The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Consultant is responsible to execute on plans that drive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) awareness and education, and supports work that aligns with Prime’s DEI values and strategy. This role will collaborate with and provide consultation to the Diversity & Inclusion Council and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and support the creation and maintenance of programs and strategies to help attract, develop, engage, and retain diverse talent. Responsibilities • Provide consultation and oversight to the Diversity & Inclusion Council, ERGs, and Alumni Network; support the implementation of new ERGs, and provide guidance and recommendations to maintain effective leadership, communication, and governance structure that advance DEI strategy and ensure satisfactory results and delivery within established deadlines and budgets • Consult with Diversity & Inclusion Council chairs, sub-committee leads, and ERG sponsors and leads to develop strategies to increase employee engagement in DEI and ERG initiatives • Lead cross functional projects to deliver on DEI strategies and initiatives; create and manage project plans to deliver upon goals and ensure satisfactory results and delivery within established deadlines and budgets • Evangelize DEI mission and initiatives through planning and execution of events and roadshows; serve as a partner, connector, and advisor to DEI champions across the organization • Identify and establish external partnerships that support company DEI programs and initiatives; develop community outreach efforts and represent Prime at DEI events • Advise on policies and programs, and represent DEI on cross functional projects as needed; identify gaps and recommend actions that drive DEI progress for underrepresented groups • Support DEI data and reporting needs; monitor and analyze DEI metrics and identify insights and recommend actions within HR; partner and consult with HR Compliance, HR Reporting and Talent Analytics on DEI-related data as needed. • Other duties as assigned
Minimum Qualifications • Bachelor’s degree in business, communications, human resources, or related area of study, or equivalent combination of education and/or relevant work experience • 5 years of human resources, marketing, business, or related work experience to include 1 year of experience advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives • Must be eligible to work in the United States without need for work visa or residency sponsorship Additional Qualifications • Strong oral and written communication skills to create compelling narrative based on the data insights • Demonstrated ability to establish and maintain a professional relationship with a wide variety of individuals (internally and externally) coming from diverse backgrounds and to communicate and lead effectively within diverse settings • Demonstrated ability to recognize and understand the value and importance of different perspectives and how to integrate those differences into the daily work • Ability to influence, think proactively, function independently as a self-starter, and drive results • Strong collaboration, consultation, and influencing skills at various levels within the organization • Ability to maintain a high level of confidentiality, effectively handle sensitive issues, and comfortable with having difficult conversations • Knowledge of applicable employment regulations, compliance requirements and HR programs, policies and procedures (e.g., equal employment opportunity, affirmative action plan, OFCCP) and the impact to diversity programs Preferred Qualifications • Advanced training or certificate in field of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion • 3 years of diversity, equity, and inclusion program experience to include creating DEI strategies and governance structures (i.e., D&I Council, ERGs)

Pretty standard, right?  I thought so at first.  For the salary range I thought the minimum qualifications seemed appropriate as this is a mid-level manager type position.  It ticked all the boxes of things I would probably ask for from communication, 5 years of relevant experience in HR or marketing or business or DEI initiatives, working well with people, ability to think proactively, strong collaboration skills, the list goes on.  Actually, I really like how so many job descriptions these days don’t necessarily ask for a Master’s degree or even a bachelors if you have the relevant experience in your field.  I think this is a great step forward with respect to not deterring folks through various biases to apply.

When I give speeches on inclusive hiring practices, especially through the lens of disability inclusion, there are so many pitfalls HR managers who write these job descriptions run.  They create barriers to entry and deter highly qualified candidates from applying for the jobs simply through the use of strategic language.

For example:

It’s not just about cultivating, finding, and attracting qualified candidates.  It’s about removing barriers that might discourage individuals from underrepresented groups from applying in the first place.  There are hidden biases within job descriptions that can be implicit, but there is prejudice in favor of one thing or another or person or group.  For example, does a person merely need the skills like critical thinking are the ability to self-direct, which is often associated (because of biases) with earning a bachelor’s degree?  One way to screen for exclusionary biased language is to solicit feedback from people who would most likely be affected by it.  Working directly with a company’s Employee Resource Groups is a great way to do this.  Just give you an idea what I’m talking about.

cartoon of hand picking up white male out of a group of ethnically diverse job candidates.

I digress …

So, I get to the bottom of the job description and I run into something quite startling, which I have never seen before.  Now, to be fair, perhaps it’s because I’m not actively job hunting, but there was a section titled “Minimum Physical Job Requirements.”  If you are getting into a physical job that demands using your body, I can totally understand this such as landscaping or construction or being a carpenter, etc.

However, for the life of me I am having trouble wrapping my head around the following:

Image Description: Minimal Physical Job Requirements: Ability to travel up to 10% of the time, Constantly required to sit, use hands to handle or feel, talk, and hear, Frequently required to reach with hands and arms, Occasionally required to stand, walk, and stoop, kneel, and crouch, Occasionally required to lift and/or move up to 10 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds, Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus

Worse, you then read the following paragraph:

Image Description: {company} is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We encourage diverse candidates to apply and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, family status, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class under federal, state, or local law.
darkened image of able-bodied man pointing person in wheelchair away

Reading Between the Lines

Unless I have just transported myself to another alternate universe or I’m missing the analytical mark by a football field, how does being able to use your hands, stoop, kneel, crouch, have full vision or occasionally lift 25 pounds have any relevance to a remote DEI Consultant position?  By the way, after the position was advertised as remote it did say the ability to travel up to 10%.  Leaving that aside for a moment, how can a company that promotes equal opportunity for hiring diverse candidates for a DEI position, of all positions, require these “Minimum Physical Job Requirements” and call themselves inclusive?

Isn’t the definition of inclusion and belonging about working cohesively with candidates that move, sense, and think differently?  Is this job description not directly discriminating against those candidates whom they say they don’t discriminate against?

It almost feels like an article I wrote few months ago about hidden discrimination within our healthcare system.  The short of it is with Obama Care, insurance companies inside the Health Insurance Marketplace cannot discriminate against pre-existing conditions.  Technically they do not.  However, they keep shrinking down these networks that many individuals with complex medical diagnoses need to see specialists who are no longer in their networks.  They are getting away on a technicality, but essentially discriminating against pre-existing conditions none-the-less.

I will say that this company is in the insurance industry.

Are we Paddling Backwards?

Are we beginning to slip backwards post-Covid several years later?  Companies are advertising remote work, but actually slowly getting back to hybrid work requirements, which I understand for some companies, but this is actually starting to remove a large group of qualified candidates who cannot travel 10% of the time.

If you actually take the time to read every bullet point for qualifications and responsibilities, I think you will be hard-pressed to find how any bullet point would require any of the minimum physical requirements with the technological accessibility we have at our fingertips today.  Correct me if I am wrong, but unless this company specifies why they need you to lift 25 pounds or jump or need you to frequently reach with your hands – this is discrimination.  Is it legal?  Great question, I’m not a lawyer, but this is not sitting well with me.

words Written together indicating discrimination including words such as equal opportunity, job market, fairness, employment, discrimination

In light of July being Disability Pride Month, I want to shed awareness on this issue so we don’t start to slide backwards again.  We need to keep pushing senior leaders to work with us, the disability community, cohesively and collaboratively to keep changing the narrative.  We need to make the business case, and all of the data is out there so I won’t get into it now, that hiring people with disabilities is just good business. 

picture of Ali Ingersoll and wheelchair from waste up with hand on chin smiling and sunglasses and bright blue top

I’ve written about it before and I will say it again that the conversation around disability inclusion in the workforce, especially corporate, is still lagging far behind and we simply cannot let up.

It’s times like this that I have to channel my many inner Judy Huemann to remind myself that this is a marathon and not a sprint.  I actually reached out to the company to ask them about these physical requirements as I’m curious as to their answer.  I will keep you posted if I do receive a response.

I’m curious about your thoughts and take on this job description?

picture of Ali Ingersoll in wheelchair and black-and-white with sunglasses and bright top on with black pants

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